in the land of the living
Today as I ran, I spotted a lone tree - its branches had become mainly bare, with about 1/3 of the leaves remaining. All the leaves were yellow as well as the leaves on the ground around it. It stood on a small hill. The sun began to come out from behind the clouds. The rays shone brightly upon the tree on the hill. The sunshine made the tree appear to glow along with the ground under it. It was so beautiful. It reminded me of the Bible story of Moses and the burning bush. Then as quick as the sun had appeared, it disappeared again behind the clouds. While the tree appears to be dying, it is in fact in the land of the living. Soon all of the leaves will be gone; the branches will be bare. The tree will now have to wait for the seasons to change. It will show life again as spring rolls around. Once again it will produce leaves of green and colorful blossoms. It will live on.
The day I decided to turn in my retirement letter, I felt like a piece of my heart was dying. Teaching was my life for years, one that I loved and cherished. This job was my calling, so I thought. But now I had to read the writing on the wall. It was time, time to pack up and leave a piece of me behind.
For days I had gone back and forth in my consideration of what to do. Was this really what God wanted? At that time, I wished that I could plainly hear God’s voice and that it would tell me what to do. What was my purpose now? I tried to find reasons to stay, but I knew that I could not. I had to ask myself hard questions. Are you valued? Is your voice appreciated? Can you be quiet and compliant? Can you speak truth? Can you use your words to fight for students? Can you still make a difference?
Every day as I tried to convince myself that I could still impact the lives of children, I kept seeing the bold letters on the wall – IT IS TIME! I was filled with sadness. Inside, I felt like a big piece of my world was disappearing before my eyes. It’s not the kids- voices in my head kept shouting. It’s not the kids – it is everything else. You can still make a difference with kids. And yet I could hear these words: You’re old. You’re set in your ways. You don’t fit anymore. It is time.
So it was that I sadly packed up my classroom and left behind students that I loved and cared about. My heart ached. Now what was I going to do? I had not prepared to retire this soon. What was God’s purpose for me now?
Right now I am in a season where my branches are bare. My leaves have all fallen. So I wait. I wait for the next seasons to arrive. I am in the land of the living. Snow will cover my branches, and I will wait.
I know that “life” will begin again. Leaves and blossoms will appear. Strength has never left. The sun will shine brightly again.
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